Saying “no” to teenage girls is a wise policy for anyone, especially schoolteachers and congressional reps. But today I’m talking about specific teenage girls: The current group of screamers appearing on NBC’s The Voice, who were so successful at getting the coaches to turn their chairs around at the beginning of the competition.
If you haven’t seen the show, the four coaches – country star Blake Shelton, Maroon 5 lead vocalist Adam Levine, beloved Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera, and pop/soul singer (and modern-day Elton John) Cee Lo Green – built teams of 16 singers during the blind audition phase of the contest… and then spent several weeks making mostly bad decisions about which ones to keep and which to send packing during the myriad battles, playoffs, knock-out rounds, and whatever other euphemisms for “singing competition” NBC’s writers could dream up.
I understand that I am not the target audience for screaming teenage girl singers, but really, who is? Katy Perry doesn’t scream. Rihanna doesn’t. Taylor Swift doesn’t. Hell, Adele can actually sing! Those are the young, trendy female pop stars the world has embraced. So what does the world know that NBC’s expert panel doesn’t? They know that music listeners are not dying for the next Celine Dion. PleaseGodNoAnythingButThat.
My apologies to Celine Dion and her fans (not really). Yes, she has an unearthly range, can break bulletproof glass, and makes dog whistles jealous, but… this applies to any artist with an excessive quantity of technical prowess… just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should. For example, just because you can turn a 300-page book about little people with hairy feet (The Hobbit) into a movie trilogy that will eventually take up 15 hours’ worth of director’s cut Blu-ray disks, it doesn’t mean you should. Same goes for wailing a bunch of ear-splitting high notes for 90-seconds at a time on The Voice.
Not surprisingly, Aguilera’s team is overloaded with high-pitched teenagers (Sylvia Yacoub, Devyn DeLoera, Adriana Louise), since Christina herself began as a high-pitched teenage singer and has a soft spot for people that remind her of herself. Or is that just narcissism? Levine’s also got a couple, including Joselyn Rivera, whom he nabbed from Christina during the brief, comically overdramatized “stealing” phase of the completion, and Loren Allred, who wailed her way past the far more talented and likable Nicole Nelson.
Bad decision, Adam Levine.
Shelton stirred a few country-girl screamers into the mix, and he was somehow able to turn a non-screamer, Cassadee Pope, into one. Meanwhile, Cee Lo Green has Trevin Hunte, who appears to be a large, bearded man yet sings like a screaming teenage girl. Yeah, I’m sorry for saying that, since Hunte’s sob story has resonated with viewers more than anyone else’s this season, and you need a sob story if you expect to compete on the show.
For the record, Hunte’s tragic tale is he has no confidence because a music teacher once told him he would never make it. I’m not sure how that trumps the dead parents and life-threatening diseases the rest of the competitors leveraged for sympathy. Just put my name under the “People Who Don’t ‘Get’ Trevin Hunte” column. Why? I think I read this somewhere once, but just because you can hit insane, screeching high notes like a teenage girl, it doesn’t mean you should.
Well, we are finally (!) past letting the coaches choose who moves on. Now America gets its say. And what did it say so far?
It said no to teenage girls.
The only genuine female screamer still standing after two rounds of voting is Team Xtina’s Sylvia Yacoub, who sounds so much like her mentor it’s silly. Yacoub’s sob story is that her Egyptian mother always wanted to be a singer, but her society forbid it, so now she wants her daughter to live the dream she was denied. Not exactly Shakespearean tragedy, but points for originality.
Otherwise, Americans continued their recent voting hot streak, saving the ones who should be saved. Odds-on favorite Bryan Keith (Team Adam) is probably the best mass-appeal singer to ever appear on the program. He simply sounds like an everyman rock star. Cee Lo’s Nicholas David, also finishing near the top in voting, is so awkward and weird that he’s awesome. I’m not so sure he’s cut out for singing the Bee Gees, which he did last Tuesday, but his Steely Dan meets Johnny Lee Hooker vocal style is as far from screaming girl as you can possibly get without changing the subject entirely.
Aguilera’s Dez Deron looks like a movie star, yet, as much as ordinary guys want him to suck, he’s a terrific singer. Damn it! His sob story isn’t even that good (he auditioned last year and wasn’t chosen. Boo hoo). Meanwhile, Team Blake’s Cassadee Pope, despite her foray into screaming, is a formidable (and likable) contender. Her deal is that her father abandoned her, which gives her a wounded, vulnerable quality that people like in a pop-rock chick. If she softens up and shows her real voice, she’ll win a lot of votes.
The dark horse is Amanda Brown, stolen from Team Cee Lo by Adam Levine. She’s got a gigantic voice for such a petite thang. She has her Celine Dion moments, but, like Ms. D., she can hit the notes without screaming. Dion obviously isn’t my cup of tea, but she is a superstar with a superstar voice. To win it all, Brown just needs to stop overpowering every song. Be the buffalo chicken strips on top, Amanda, not the whole salad.
Did I really say that?
The Voice airs again tomorrow night, when these folks fight for their musical lives once more. By Tuesday, after the votes are counted, the list of contenders will be whittled down to a precious few. So when it comes to voting for screaming teenage girls, America, remember: Just because you can do something…